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Observation-report by Philippe and Aline Wolfer


Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

ARKive (Christopher Parsons)


Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

Related pages:

See here the card of the Andean Condor

Andean Condor social behaviour


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Page Family Cathartidae

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The Andean Condor’s flight

Cathartidae Family


This large raptor depends highly on updraughts and uses especially those which occur along the cliff faces and in canyons, near the rocky walls.

The Andean Condor is a South American Cathartidae species often found in coastal cliffs, but also at high elevation in mountains. He spends most of time in the air, soaring in thermal currents. In order to save the energy, he rarely performs flapping flight.

His shadow follows all his movements on the rocky faces of the cliffs while the bird is gliding through the sky. And sometimes, our mind may soar with him!

These raptors can be seen in small groups or in pairs, perched on rocks, waiting for thermals. When they take off, the large wings “catch” the rising current and the bird soars between the high rocky walls in gorges and ravines, playing with the friendly wind.

Sometimes, he disappears behind a stony slope, but he appears again suddenly, coming from nowhere.

The large black silhouette appears very impressive seen from below. But if you can look at him from the cliff top, the broad white wing patches make him conspicuous while the raptor is carried by thermals.

When finally he perches on rocks on the high mountains’ slopes, he lands carefully, spreading the wings. Then, the upright stance of the condor seems to dominate the territory.
The female often joins him and together, they wait for updraughts.

The Andean Condor has inspired numerous legends in the Andes. This bird is the National Symbol of several South American countries. He is often present in the Andean folklore and mythology.

If you are lucky enough to see the Andean Condor flying over his mountainous domain with his impressive silhouette crossing the sky a few metres above your head, you probably will forget your gear in order to enjoy full use of this sight, while an intense emotion will be stealing over you.  

You will feel a displacement of air, the sun will disappear a few seconds behind the broad wings, and finally, this living symbol will return to his “home”, a rocky ledge on high cliff face, up there in the Andes.